Saturday, February 23, 2008

Paul Rogers - Being (Amor Fati, 2007) *****

A Paul Rogers solo bass album on Amor Fati, a new French label. All CDs on the label are issued in not more than 500 copies, and all in unique hand-painted covers. There is no information on the cover or backside at all, as a dual token of both lack of commercial interest and excellent positioning. The record brings a live performance from Rogers in the Musée d'Aquitaine in Bordeaux, France in April 2007, consisting of two tracks : "Being One", which lasts a little over 70 minutes, and "Being Two", which lasts a little over 3 minutes. This is, to my knowledge, Roger's third solo bass release, and one well worth getting if you're interested in the genre. His custom-made 7-string bass with 14 sympathetic strings is a unique instrument which of course broadens the possibilities of sound exponentially. What you hear could come from a variety of instruments : bass, guitar, percussion, cello, piano strings or even harp-like sounds, although the bass itself is the dominant voice. As the music is improvised on the spot, it has no goal, it is moving nowhere, and to Roger's great credit, he manages to make every moment interesting and captivating.

He starts the long track by dark arco playing, then alternating with playing pizzi throughout the piece, yet always creating tension, suspense even, and out of the gloomy atmosphere he builds, once in a while a jubilant half-melody of extreme beauty arises. His playing is rich and varied, from dark droning moments to barely touched silence and faint birdlike sounds, to pulsing deep-souled jazz sounds. And that's the only thing he does on the short second track, of which at least one minute is the audience clapping enthusiastically. Here is a man at the peak of his powers, creating beauty and deep emotion at the same time. Don't miss it!


Here are a few quotes of interest :

Paul Rogers in an interview : "You have to be inquisitive and find the keys to get in to the art. Be honest with yourself and don't tolerate bullshit. Because that's when it all goes wrong as an artist, when the ego comes in and it's me, me, me! Forget that and just get on with it."

From another Rogers review : "There's an old joke about a marriage guidance counsellor who manages to get uncommunicative couples talking to each other in his sessions by playing Charlie Mingus records, in the belief that no-one can keep quiet during a bass solo." Why are there so many jokes about bass players?

4 comments:

Justin said...

Hello,

I'm a big fan of Rogers' music, mostly from what I've heard of him playing with Paul Dunmall and Philip Gibbs. I was wondering how someone could order the disc described here. Are there any American distributors who deal with this label?

Anonymous said...

justin,

You can try to order it from DMG
http://search2.downtownmusicgallery.com/lookup.cgi?item=2008_01_22_18_07_32

stef said...

Justin,
I assume you can also order in English at the label itself : here's the email address : mathieuimmer@hotmail.com.

I sent them a mail just to find out whether that's indeed the best way.
If not, I'll post their response her e later.
Cheers,
stef

stef said...

Justin,

I got confirmation from Mathieu Immer that you can order by e-mail. There's setting up a PayPal system for transatlantic orders.

Regards,
stef